Saturday, May 21, 2016

Video (7 min.): How Should You Seek God's Kingdom and His Righteousness?



by Clint Byars
Forward Church

How would you answer that question for an unbeliever?

You would tell him to believe on Jesus to receive forgiveness and eternal life. Why then does seeking the kingdom become about performance rather than believing for believers?

Seeking God’s kingdom and his righteousness is something we do in our hearts to ensure that we are in confident faith toward God based on what Jesus having already made us righteous when we put faith in him.

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A.B. Simpson - Christ in You: The Apostle's Secret

by A. B. Simpson

Ancient mythology recognized some union of God with man, but it was a union which only degraded the gods and did not lift mankind. It still left a great gulf between the earthly and the heavenly.

It is this Paul refers to when he exclaims: "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for them that love him" (I Cor. 2:9).

The apostle's secret of "Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Col. 1:27) is one which the world cannot grasp. Think of it and try to realize it. God is not only a God who mercifully pardons our guilt and saves us from its consequences, not only a God who gives to us a new nature that loves to do the right which once we hated, not only a God who comes to our aid in temptation and trial and interposes His strength and His providence for our deliverance, but above all this He is a God who comes Himself to live His own life in us.

He takes us into the divine family, makes us partakers of the divine nature, undertakes our life for us, becomes the Author and Finisher of our faith, and works in us "to will and to do of His good pleasure" (Phil. 2:13). This is incomprehensible to our finite minds.

What does human poetry, human philosophy, the purest form of human religion know of anything like this? No wonder Paul was aflame with the enthusiasm of his glorious discovery and longed to sweep like an angel flying in the midst of heaven to tell our helpless race the mighty secret - the secret that God not only had come down to visit men with a message of mercy, but had come to stay and live within them with "the power of an endless life" (Heb. 7:16).

It is still a secret, except to the initiated. Not only did it need a divine revelation to make it known to the world, it still needs a divine revelation to make it personally known and experientially real to the individual heart.

This is what the apostle means in I Corinthians 2, where with great clarity and force he argues that the mere human intellect cannot comprehend the things of God, but that we need a divine mind to be added to our human understanding before we can en­ter into the realm of spiritual truth.

It takes the mind of a man, Paul says, to understand the things of a man; and it takes the mind of God in us to understand the things of God. So he adds, "We have received... the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God" (I Cor. 2:12). Later he states the profound and extra­ordinary fact, "We have the mind of Christ" (verse 16), meaning that God gives to us a supernatural revelation of Himself and a supernatural capacity to understand that revelation.

Therefore the moment that this great mystery becomes an ex­perience in the life of a soul is a transcendent moment. It is one of the mountaintops of life. It is the crisis of existence. It is the peniel where God declares, "Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel" (Gen. 32:28) and where transformed Jacob can say, "I have seen God face to face" (verse 30).

Have you entered into that sublime, supreme mystery? Have you passed through the veil into the Holy of Holies, so that you can say triumphantly:

I have passed through the veil to the Sacred Abode
Where His glory the Savior reveals to His own:
And now, in the innermost presence of God,
I am dwelling forever with Jesus alone.

It is always a mystery, because even to the initiated there are still depths and heights of yet undiscovered glory and blessing. The apostle himself declares, "The Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God" (I Cor. 2:10).

Further, he prays that believers may fully know the riches of the glory of this mystery. He declares, "The love of Christ ... passes knowledge" (Eph. 3:19).

This glorious secret will unfold in ever-richer, fuller splendors till the end of time and through the never-ending ages of eter­nity. All that we know of it already is like the pebbles that a child has gathered on the shore while the depths of the bound­less ocean stretch out unexplored beyond.

Artists tell us that the secret of genius in any great work of art lies in the depth of the painting. Some pictures seem all upon the surface; others open to the observing eye infinite depths of suggestion and imagination.

But the mystery of Jesus surpasses all human thoughts, visions or imaginations. Every day unfolds some new charm. Every experience presents in it some new and living glory.

Like Aaron's rod, it is ever budding, blossoming and bearing new fruit. It never will cease to be as fresh as in the hour its glory first burst upon our transported view. And on and on through the cycles of eternity we shall still sing with wonder and adoration:

His love what mortal thought can reach,
What mortal tongue display?
Imagination's utmost stretch
In wonder dies away.



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Pet Food Super Powers


 by Dr. Jane Bicks

You know you should feed your pet kid quality food. But do you know why premium kibbles have health-promoting power?

Dr. Jane has been creating nutritious products for decades. And now, she spells out ways our foods not only help maintain but actually amp up pet health.

Get the scoop on those scoops of kibble! Read Dr. Jane's post now!




Thursday, May 12, 2016

Life is in the 'BEING' -- Not in the 'DOING'

by Donna L. Watkins

Note: This was an article I wrote quite a few years back and it's still something I am in process with.  Now while I'm battling the heart issues and don't have any energy to DO much of anything, I get to BE a lot of the day, but I still have to catch myself wanting to DO which is normal since if I can't sit or lie down to do it ... it's not getting done.  To watch my husband do all these things around the house is a humbling experience since keeping good stewardship with a clean and organized house was definitely one of my "who am I" things.

I've come a long way ... and I've learned a lot along the way.  One thing that really makes a difference is to meditate on a Scripture that you want to plant within your heart.  That you want to come alive in your life.  You may have known it for years and believe it with your mind, but it needs to go deep into your heart to bring forth God's promises.  The time you spend thinking and worrying over things can be used for this and it will reap incredible rewards.  You can truly have peace in the midst of the storm.  Continually remind yourself that we are here for God's pleasure.  Let's focus on that and dance with Jesus.

Are you tired of all the DOING?

Wouldn't you like a little bit of time just to BE you?

Life is in the BEING....not in the DOING. We mentally agree to that with a huff and a puff and a rebuttal of, "Yeah, but you should see my schedule!"

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Never have enough time? Always running from task to task? Desiring to scream, "Stop! I want to get off!" but can't find your voice - or the time to do it?

You can schedule time for you! You are in charge of the schedule you make and there is time in every day for you, if you'll reevaluate life! What do you believe you're here for? To do? To accomplish? To complete tasks? To 'get it all done' -- only to find that most of it needs to be redone again? What's driving you?

God created us to be.  He created us for His good pleasure:

"Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for THY PLEASURE they are and were created." (Rev. 4:11 KJV)

Do you give God pleasure?  He created Adam and Eve for His pleasure.  They walked and talked in the Garden he gave them for enjoyment and beauty and provision of food.  He was extravagant with His love.  Father, Jesus and Holy Spirit are one Being and it seems there came a time when they wanted to have a family.  Wanted to love others as they loved each other.

Some of this is too spiritual for our finite minds, but it's quite obvious that God wanted fellowship - relationship with others to love and be loved by.  1John 4:8 tells us that "God is Love."  He doesn't just love as a verb.  He is LOVE as a noun, it's Who He is.  And "We love Him because He first loved us" (1John 4:19).  But if we don't allow God to love on us and fellowship with us, we have a hard time loving others.  We get wrapped up in what our flesh wants and what makes it feel good.

If you're really tired of it all --- and I mean really --- you can change your life! Driven people usually believe it's the people around them that require their busyness, but if we look inside, the deep desire is to be noticed and accepted or approved. Why would you ruin your health without something driving you to do so? It's not common sense to burn yourself out. Change can come but it won't be overnight.

You must first realize that your life is not about what you do! The world has become a rat race of who does the most and who does it best. Don't think you're in that race?
  • Do you have conversations with people where you verbally recite the list of things you did the day before?
  • Or have you done it as an answer to a question from somebody who wants you to do something else? 
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The first thing we have to realize is that life will go on without us. That is beyond some people's imaginations. We tend to think everything will fall apart if we're not working the schedule.

Sit down and take an inventory. Write down every task you do - daily, weekly, and monthly. Now that you've got your list, don't let pride take over. It will look like it's impossible for one person to really do all of that! So, instead of pride....how about a good dose of remorse?

You'll get a good start on that when you make your second list. Write down everything that you 'don't have time to do' that you would like to do. Include in that the things your family would put on that list --- after all, why bother to have a family, if you don't want to share life with them? Also list the really important stuff that you think would make life worthwhile.

Now look at the two lists. Pretend that you just moved out of the country and you are going to get a fresh start on deciding what you want your life to include. You'll have to picture yourself out of the country, knowing nobody yet, because we pressure ourselves into doing all kinds of things because of what 'somebody' might think or want.

Circle the things from either list that would make up a "My Life Is....." list. Now that you can see all the things that you really don't want to be doing (the items that are not circled), how about scheduling a plan to get rid of those tasks or to delegate them to somebody else.

You can adopt a frugal lifestyle which would allow you to pay somebody to do the necessary things that you might not really want to do (i.e. cleaning, laundry, yard work). With a clear mind and some time spent gleaning frugal ideas, you can go a long way towards what you consider real life to be. You can start gathering ideas at www.TheFrugalLife.com. Use the forum to ask questions of others.

It is okay to say "No." You may be the spark that lights somebody else's attempts at being who they really want to be also. Lead by example. Begin to simplify your life. In doing so, you may shuffle around a few friends. Those who still can't believe it can be done, or those who believe that what they do is who they are, will flee. As you change, you will draw unto yourself those who are on the path back to simplicity....those who have a little more peace than you do....those who seem to have found what life is really all about.

If you're ready to head down this path, I wouldn't doubt that you can think of somebody that's been led into your path of life to show you there is a better way. Grab hold of their hand and let them take you down another road to a place that doesn't spin and sway from hurry, scurry and worry. We really are not indispensable. Take hold of your life and schedule Peace and Joy instead of Hurry and Worry.....and imagine what it will do for those around you?

I like this translation of Matthew 11:28-30 from The Message Bible.  It paints a picture of peace:

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

 The world will still be okay if you take time to find out who you are and what you've been created for. We often miss our destiny and purpose in life because we get caught up in the "Tyranny of the Urgent." Back off and take charge and decide to be somebody different.

Remember that not once in the Bible will you find mentioned that Jesus ever hurried, yet look at the awesome responsibility He had and the short time frame to work with. Separate yourself and be who you were designed to be....and the first role of that design is to fellowship with God.  It's incredible how many "events" in a day may disappear as you get dedicated to your walk and talk with Jesus.

Adam walked in the Garden with God. Noah walked with God. David was a man after God's own heart. Be a person who knows the Lord. If you plan to spend eternity with Him, why not become intimate now?

This is from "Utmost for His Highest," by Oswald Chambers: "The golden rule for your life and mine is this concentrated keeping of the life open towards God. Let everything else - work, clothes, food, everything on earth - go by the board, saving that one thing. The rush of other things always tends to obscure this concentration on God. We have to maintain ourselves in the place of beholding, keeping the life absolutely spiritual all through. Let other things come and go as they may, let other people criticize as they will, but never allow anything to obscure the life that is hid with Christ in God. Never be hurried out of the relationship of abiding in Him. It is the one thing that is apt to fluctuate but it ought not to. The severest discipline of a Christian's life is to learn how to keep "beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord."

Martha Washington has been dead for 200 years, but somebody is still dusting her house. You do not have to be responsible for everything!


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Copyright and Reprint Information - All photos remain the property of Donna L. Watkins, but may be used with proper credit and link back to the website, TheNatureInUs.com. Articles written by Donna L. Watkins may also be reprinted with proper credit and link back to the website, www.TheNatureInUs.com.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Chinese Bamboo Tree

Please Note: The following is a reprint of a post by Eric Aronson from www. dashlive.com, whose website domain apparently expired on 1/1/09. The content reflects one of most powerful concepts I’ve been exposed to in my 47 years, and had a profound impact on me throughout 2008. All credit for the material goes to Eric.

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Bamboo Trees in Costa Rica Nature Preserve
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Keep Watering Your Bamboo Tree
by Eric Aronson

In the Far East, there is a tree called the Chinese bamboo tree. This remarkable tree is different from most trees in that it doesn’t grow in the usual fashion. While most trees grow steadily over a period of years, the Chinese bamboo tree doesn’t break through the ground for the first four years. Then, in the fifth year, an amazing thing happens – the tree begins to grow at an astonishing rate. In fact, in a period of just five weeks, a Chinese bamboo tree can grow to a height of 90 feet. It’s almost as if you can actually see the tree growing before your very eyes.

Well, I’m convinced that life often works in a similar way. You can work for weeks, months and even years on your dream with no visible signs of progress and then, all of the sudden, things take off. Your business becomes profitable beyond your wildest dreams. Your marriage becomes more vibrant and passionate than you ever thought it could be. Your contribution to your church, social organization and community becomes more significant than you have ever imagined.

Yet, all of this requires one thing – faith. The growers of the Chinese bamboo tree have faith that if they keep watering and fertilizing the ground, the tree will break through. Well, you must have the same kind of faith in your bamboo tree, whether it is to run a successful business, win a Pulitzer Prize, raise well-adjusted children, or what have you. You must have faith that if you keep making the calls, honing your craft, reading to your children, reaching out to your spouse or asking for donations, that you too will see rapid growth in the future.

This is the hard part for most of us. We get so excited about the idea that’s been planted inside of us that we simply can’t wait for it to blossom. Therefore, within days or weeks of the initial planting, we become discouraged and begin to second guess ourselves.

Sometimes, in our doubt, we dig up our seed and plant it elsewhere, in hopes that it will quickly rise in more fertile ground. We see this very often in people who change jobs every year or so. We also see it in people who change churches, organizations and even spouses in the pursuit of greener pastures. More often than not, these people are greatly disappointed when their tree doesn’t grow any faster in the new location.

Other times, people will water the ground for a time but then, quickly become discouraged. They start to wonder if it’s worth all of the effort. This is particularly true when they see their neighbors having success with other trees. They start to think, “What am I doing trying to grow a bamboo tree? If I had planted a lemon tree, I’d have a few lemons by now.” These are the people who return to their old jobs and their old ways. They walk away from their dream in exchange for a “sure thing.”

Sadly, what they fail to realize is that pursuing your dream is a sure thing if you just don’t give up. So long as you keep watering and fertilizing your dream, it will come to fruition. It may take weeks. It may take months. It may even take years, but eventually, the roots will take hold and your tree will grow. And when it does, it will grow in remarkable ways.

We’ve seen this happen so many times. Henry Ford had to water his bamboo tree through five business failures before he finally succeeded with the Ford Motor Company. Richard Hooker had to water his bamboo tree for seven years and through 21 rejections by publishers until his humorous war novel, M*A*S*H became a runaway bestseller, spawning a movie and one of the longest-running television series of all-time. Another great bamboo grower was the legendary jockey Eddie Arcaro. Arcaro lost his first 250 races as a jockey before going on to win 17 Triple Crown races and 554 stakes races for total purse earnings of more than $30 million.

Well, you have a bamboo tree inside of you just waiting to break through. So keep watering and believing and you too will be flying high before you know it.


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High-pressure Stress Can Lead to Depression

WHOLE FOODS MAGAZINE

Bad moods can come and go throughout our daily grind. It might be a spilled coffee followed by a stubbed toe that sets you off. But sometimes, prolonged high-pressure situations can lead to blues that just aren’t lifting. If you think a little pick-me-up is right for you, talk with your doctor about the studies below, which suggest certain natural remedies can also put the pep in your step again.

Omega-3s and Postpartum Depression
Omega-3s are well known to support brain health in the young and old alike. Researchers are now broadening the pool of science to include work on postpartum depression. Many new mothers can suffer from symptoms of postpartum depression such as crying, severe mood swings, loss of concentration and anxiety. In a recent study, 52 pregnant women took either a corn oil placebo or a fish oil capsule containing 300 mg of DHA for fives days during the 24th to 40th weeks of their pregnancies (1).

By using the postpartum screening scale to test results, researchers determined that expecting mothers who took fish oil had less depression and anxiety symptoms up to six months after delivery (1). It is important to note that fish oil and other omega-3 products cannot cure or prevent postpartum depression, but the study did show evidence of reducing the risk.

Tryptophan
Shoppers may know the neurotransmitter serotonin as the “feel good” mood-boosting chemical in the brain. Without enough of it, we often feel a little off or down. Tryptophan is a building block of serotonin, and depletion in the body can actually lower mood and increase aggression (2). So, it’s a good idea to considering adding foods to your shopping cart that contain this essential (with a doctor’s approval) is also an option, which sometimes appears as tryptophan or 5-HTP on the shelf. One study found 5- HTP increased serotonin levels in subjects and was linked to fewer symptoms by those taking a prescription antidepressant (3).

Magnesium
Magnesium also plays a large role in the production of serotonin, which means it can also be used as a mood booster. Magnesium deficiency symptoms are very similar to depression such as fatigue, confusion, memory loss and even anxiety. Magnesium can be obtained from items such as spinach, nuts, beans or whole grain foods. Supplement forms are also a great option since food sources are often not enough to get all the magnesium we need. In fact, studies found taking 125–300 mg of magnesium daily with meals and at bedtime was “usually effective for treatment of depression in general use” (4).

GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric-Acid)
GABA is a neurotransmitter that blocks impulses between nerve cells in the brain. GABA has calming anti-anxiety and anticonvulsive effects. Low levels of GABA have been linked with anxiety or mood disorders. A recent study involving 19 participants found that taking a 60-minute yoga class significantly increased levels of GABA within the body. There was a 27% increase in GABA in yoga participants versus the comparative participants who read for 60 minutes (5). GABA is also available in supplement form in your local health food store.

St. John’s Wort
St. John’s wort is said to stop reuptake of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine and support healthy moods (6). A literature review of 14 studies involving 960 adults taking St. John’s wort (500–1,800 mg daily) with mild to moderate depression found a significant benefit for those taking St. John’s wort, with results as effective as antidepressants (6).

SAMe (S-adenosylmethionine)
SAMe is a natural compound that affects the metabolism of dopamine and serotonin. Studies have shown individuals who suffer from depression have lower levels of SAMe in their spinal fluid. In a 1984 trial, researchers treated nine depressed patients beginning at 200 mg of SAMe twice a day. Patients reporting nausea or insomnia were not increased above 800 mg, while patients with no symptoms could be increased up to 1,600 mg. Seven of nine showed improvements or total resolution of their symptoms (7). In another trial of 20 patients using SAMe, seven out of 11 patients with no history of having a poor response to antidepressants were completely resolved of depressive symptoms. Two out of nine patients who had failed results with antidepressants had benefits with SAMe (8).

It is important to talk with your doctor before using any natural remedies to address health concerns or even the rainy day blues. Don’t delay if you think you may have symptoms of depression.

References
1. A.M. Llorente and C. Vanderwall, Experimental Biology 2011 meeting, Washington, D.C., April 9-13, 2011.
2. S.N. Young, “The Effect of Raising and Lowering Tryptophan Levels on Human Mood and Social Behaviour,” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 368.1615 (2013): 20110375. PMC. Web. 20 Jan. 2016.
3. University of Maryland Medical Center, “Tryptophan,” http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/5hydroxytryptophan-5htp, accessed 1/27/16.
4. G.A. Eby and K.L. Eby, “Rapid Recovery From Major Depression Using Magnesium Treatment,” Med. Hypotheses 67 (2), 362–370 (2006).
5. C.C. Streeter et al., “Yoga Asana Sessions Increase Brain GABA Levels: A Pilot Study,” J. Alter. Complement. Med. 13 (4), 419–426 (2007).
6. “St. John’s Wort for Depression,” Am. Fam. Physician 71 (7), 1375–1376 (2005).
7. J.D. Lipinski, et al. “Open Trial of S-Adenosylmethionine For Treatment of Depression,” Am. J. Psychiatry 141 (3), 448–450 (1984).
8. T.D. Johnson, “SAMe,” Life Extens. Apr. 2007, www.lifeextension.com/magazine/2007/4/report_same/page-01, accessed Jan. 27, 2016.


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Enter Doubt, Exit Faith

by Andrew Wommack

Matthew 14:30, "But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me."

The reason Peter began to sink was because of his fear. In verse 31 Jesus used the word "doubt" in reference to Peter's fear. Fear is simply negative faith or faith in reverse. Where did this fear come from? Second Timothy 1:7 says, "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power and of love, and of a sound mind." It didn't come from God. This fear was able to come upon Peter because he took his attention off of Jesus and put it on his situation.

Fear or doubt cannot "just overcome" us. We have to let it in. If Peter had kept his attention on Jesus, the author and finisher of his faith (Heb. 12:2), he wouldn't have feared. In the same way that faith comes by hearing the Word of God (Rom. 10:17), fear comes by hearing or seeing something contrary to God's Word.

We would not be tempted with fear or doubt if we didn't consider things that Satan uses to minister fear and doubt. The wind and waves didn't really have anything to do with Peter walking on the water.

He couldn't have walked on the water apart from Jesus even if it had been calm. The circumstances simply took Peter's attention off of his Master and led him back into carnal thinking. Likewise, Satan tries to distract us with thinking about our problems.

Peter's faith didn't fail him all at once, as can be seen by the fact that he only "began" to sink. If there had been no faith present, he would have sunk all at once and not gradually. This illustrates that the entrance of fear and the exit of faith do not happen instantly. There are always signs that this is happening.

If we will turn our attention back to Jesus, as Peter did, He will save us from drowning. No problem is too big for God. We should cast our care about the problem over on God and just keep our eyes on Jesus, the Word.

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